Tony La Russa
Tony La Russa debuted as a major league player in 1963, but he was no where near as good at playing the game as he was at managing. Although he played 34 games that year with the A’s, he was just 11-for-44 with only two extra-base hits. By the time he returned from a lengthy stint in the minors in 1968, the Athletics had moved to Oakland.
La Russa spent most of his playing career as an Athletic, until he was purchased by the Atlanta Braves in 1971. In that time, he hit .195/.289/.249, with absolutely no home runs or stolen bases, and 36 strikeouts in 169 at-bats. Those are some impressively bad numbers.
It’s quite likely that when La Russa left Oakland, not a single person thought he would become a Hall of Famer. Of course, he accomplished the feat as the St. Louis Cardinals’ manager, not as their light-hitting middle infielder, but it is still surprisingly to consider how many terrible players go on to have some of the best managerial careers in history. La Russa will be fondly remembered forever, but he certainly would not have been had he continued his career as a player.
Next: The Worst A's Players in History: Curt Blefary